Magazine article National Forum

Letters to the Editor

Magazine article National Forum

Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt


I wish to commend you for the Spring 2000 issue of the National Forum [Vol. 80, No. 2] on racism. You are to be congratulated for addressing one of our most complex and troubling social problems. I have been a member of Phi Kappa Phi for two years, but of all the issues of National Forum I had thus far received, this was the first one with articles relevant to my work in social justice. Until this issue, I had seriously considered canceling my subscription for lack of pertinence to my life as an advocate, community activist, and social service administrator.

I was especially pleased to read Ms. Ruiz's article "Color Coded" on the pervasive discrimination and racism immigrants and native-born people of color experience. As a social worker specializing in immigration and immigrant policy, and as the former executive director of a nonprofit community-based organization providing legal services to Latino immigrants, I am all too aware of the human suffering that results from anti-immigrant rhetoric, and the discriminatory public policies and law-enforcement practices that flow out of it. Immigrant-rights advocates have worked diligently the last few years to bring such problems to the attention of the general public, many of whom do not realize how much of the rhetoric used is dependent upon the worst of racial and ethnic stereotyping. Few of the positive data about immigrants make the mainstream press or political campaigns. For example, many people do not realize that immigrants pay taxes at higher rates than do the native-born, yet use public benefits at a lower rate than do natives; or that rates of immigration are lower now relative to the total population than those at the turn of century. Often, the rhetoric omits mention of those factors that cause some nations to become sending countries, for example, foreign investments that change local economies so that migration becomes the only option for individuals and families to survive. Such rhetoric also fails to mention the harsh realities of political refugees who flee horrific conditions in search of fundamental human rights, such as safety and freedom from torture. For those who doubt that racism is a lynchpin of U.S. immigration policy, it is telling to note that the U.S. Immigration and

Naturalization Service has two official categories of immigrants used to identify people slated for "removal" (deportation). M and OTM stand for "Mexican" and "Other Than Mexican." Immigration is a complex global issue that grows alongside our growing globalization of technology and markets. To ignore the human consequences of our economic, political, and social globalization is folly.

The spring issue was a positive first step toward bringing greater awareness of the problem in an informed way to a large audience who can help change minds on the matter. I will maintain my subscription and hope to see more in-depth articles on related problems in the future. Please continue to address these tough topics.

Valerie Pacini

I was disappointed as well as saddened by your Spring 2000 issue regarding race in America ["Race," Vol. 80, No. 2]. The vast majority of Americans - of all races - get along fine in their everyday lives. Yet your articles all seemed to focus on the negative and often ignored the truth.

For example, black two-parent families in America earn about the same as white two-parent families. It is only when the large number of single-parent black families is added in that there is a large earnings disparity. According to U.S. government figures, 41 percent of all poor households own their own homes, 70 percent own a car, 27 percent two or more cars, 97 percent have color television, and twothirds of poor households have air-conditioning.

Most Americans believe all crime is wrong, including crimes against persons of another race. According to a Justice Department study, the average black was fifty-six times as likely to commit criminal violence against a white as was a white to commit criminal violence against a black. …

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